Easel Paintings

 

From 1922 through 1925, Louise studied painting at the Art Students League in New York under Kenneth Hayes Miller (1876-1952). Miller, known for his American Scene paintings, was an influential teacher to many of the period’s best artists of the genre, such as Edward Hopper, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Isabel Bishop and George Bellows. Along with her fresco work, she worked in oil, tempera and watercolor. After settling in Denver in 1926, Louise worked tirelessly taking on a variety of subjects depicting everyday life, ranging from mothers and children, men building a house to landscapes and silver mines. She also executed portrait commissions of many of Denver’s prominent citizens. She derived as much joy and satisfaction painting a crowded Western battle scene or automobile accident as she did painting a bucolic picnic scene or her daughter’s fourth grade class singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”.

One of Louise’s more dramatic works, The People vs. Mary Elizabeth Smith, depicts a contemporary 1936 trial of an 18-year old young woman who had shot and killed her abusive husband. Mr. Smith had filed a petition to annul their one-year marriage and she was informed that this would make her eight-month old son a bastard. Using her brother’s hunting rifle, she shot her husband to “protect my baby’s name”. She was acquitted by a jury of 12 men. Just like much of Denver at the time, Louise was intrigued by the proceedings and attended all four days of the trial resulting in her stunning 1936 work.

Building a painting career is a challenge at the best of times, but during the Depression and World War II years, even more so. However, an equally difficult obstacle she faced was the perception that women artists were not serious about their work. On occasion, she was described in belittling terms, such as “gifted socialite”, or “clever with brushes”. She proved them wrong by creating a strong and diverse body of work. During this period, many women, artists or otherwise, set aside their careers in order to marry and raise a family, beginning a career only once their children are grown and/or the death of their husband. For Louise, however, it was the opposite. The years during which she was married and raising children were her most productive. After her husband, Arnold, died in 1947, she “lost heart” and didn’t produce a great deal of work, with the exception her 1952 fresco at Weld County Hospital in Greeley, Colorado, and St. Brendan’s mural in Bermuda in 1966. She focused her energy teaching art at the University of Denver School or Art from 1945-1950 and the Bermuda School for Girls from 1954-1973.

Among others, Louise’s work has been exhibited at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, Denver Art Museum, Kirkland Museum of Art in Denver, and the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon Texas.